By Alex Binkley

With a $6-million self-financed facelift to its facilities, the historic Pictou Shipyard on the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia is pitching its world-class services to shipping lines around the Atlantic. The yard offers shipbuilding a Business Development Manager for the company, a division of Aecon Atlantic Industrial Inc.

“The Pictou Shipyard has a long history of shipbuilding and we are focused on building ships again,” Garnett says. “We are currently building barges and performing repairs to many different vessels, including ferries, offshore vessels, Canadian Coast Guard vessels and Royal Canadian Navy ships. We are servicing both the commercial and government sectors.” Depending on available work, the yard employs about 95 people.

“We are continuously making improvements in the shipyard,” he continues. “We are looking to add a floating drydock.” One strong selling point for the yard is a side-transfer system, which enables it to handle several large vessels at the same time on its repair dock and return them to water when ready. “It is extremely important to our operation and to our clients. It helps the yard in scheduling longer-term work compared to short term work. We are able to be more flexible with our clients,” he says.

“We understand that when a client’s vessel is out of service, it is not generating any revenue, so timing is everything,” he explains. “Preplanning a docking for a vessel is critical to ensure the vessel is only out of service for the scheduled time allowed. For example, we make sure spare parts have been ordered and on the ground at the shipyard and also take care of any steel work that can be prefabricated prior to docking. We perform both alongside refurbishment and repair in dry dock. With planning, repair work can be done simultaneously on multiple vessels, and emergency dockings can be handled more easily.”

The yard has a 4,000 tonne capacity marine railway and can handle ships up to 305 feet in length, Garnett points out. Using a side transfer system enables the yard to work on multiple large vessels at the same time. It has a 300-foot wharf and a 600-foot wharf, 30 feet of water at dockside, and is ISO9001 certified. As part of the facelift of the shipyard, the foundation of the marine railway track was replaced with 312 new piles to give it a lift capability of 24 tons per foot. Antiquated wooden track on the marine railways was removed and replaced with concrete and steel track.

The cradle to hold the ships was completely refurbished and strengthened. Cradle rollers and roller frames were replaced with a new roller system. The equipment used to haul the ships out of the water was overhauled and a 400 horsepower drive motor was installed. Uprights on the site were removed and refurbished, catwalks rebuilt in steel, wooden bumpers replaced and bilge block tackle refurbished or replaced. The side transfer was completely refurbished including the installation of portside transfer support legs, track shimming, roller system and side transfer cars.

Among the work the yard can perform are hull thickness surveys, hull and deck framing and plate renewal, whether steel or aluminum, structural modifications, tank cleaning, anode replacement, internal and external pressure washing, blasting and painting, repair or renewal of the deck covering, shaft and rudder bearing inspection, measurement and renewal, propulsion machinery inspections and overhauls, valve and pump inspections and overhauls, HVAC repairs and installations, piping repairs and modifications, electrical and instrumentation installations and modification, sensor calibration, heat exchanger overhaul, topside repair, gearbox inspection and repair and underwater welding. “Pictou County’s proud maritime heritage is nowhere more prominent than in its shipbuilding history,” Garnett adds. “For more than a century, specialized craftsmen, workers and engineers have built countless vessels for the marine industry. Aecon Atlantic Industrial is proud of the role it plays in ensuring these traditions and historical sources of employment carry forward into a new century.”